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Extensive torque on ball causes Zumaya's injury

DETROIT -- All that heat Joel Zumaya throws has resulted in
a major hurt.

The Detroit Tigers setup man is expected to miss three months
after rupturing a tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand
while warming up Saturday night in Kansas City.

"He told me that football players get it when they catch their fingers in jerseys when they are trying to make a tackle. As soon as he saw my finger, he knew what I had done, but he didn't know of a baseball pitcher who had ever done quite the same thing."
-- Joel Zumaya

Zumaya said Tuesday the doctor who will operate on him believes
the injury is related to the unusually tight grip that enables him
to throw a 103-mph fastball.

"I'm just putting so much torque on the ball that I ripped the
tendon," he said. "It was a fluke -- I should be as good as new
when this heals -- but it is a fluke that is going to last 12
weeks."

Dr. Charles Melone, who is scheduled to operate on Zumaya on
Thursday, told him that the current problem generally happens in a
different sport.

"He told me that football players get it when they catch their
fingers in jerseys when they are trying to make a tackle," Zumaya
said. "As soon as he saw my finger, he knew what I had done, but
he didn't know of a baseball pitcher who had ever done quite the
same thing."

Zumaya is 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in his second major league season.
Last year, he was 6-3 with a 1.94 ERA as the Tigers reached the
World Series.

This is not the first unusual injury Zumaya has suffered. The
flamethrowing Detroit Tigers reliever missed part of the ALCS
because of a wrist strain caused by his constant playing of the
video game "Guitar Hero".

"This is a real shame for the kid," Tigers manager Jim Leyland
said. "We're not as good today as we were yesterday, but we can't
whine about it."

Fernando Rodney will move into Zumaya's role as Todd Jones' top
setup man, but Leyland isn't sure how it will affect the rest of
his bullpen.

"We're going to mix and match more than we did," he said.
"I'm going to have to find us new ways to get to the eighth inning
with a lead."

Leyland is hoping that 40-year-old Jose Mesa will be able to
provide some help in the late innings. Mesa is 1-1 with an 18.00
ERA in five outings, having missed two weeks with a groin injury.

"I'm a big fan of Jose Mesa," said Leyland. "If he could get
himself going and give us something, that would be a gift from
heaven."